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Email marketing best practices by Janine Popick @janinepopick

Email marketing best practices by Janine Popick @janinepopick

Email Marketing Best Practices

Whether you are new to email marketing or a savvy veteran, working for a company that sends 500 emails a week or 500,000, there are certain policies you should follow to optimize your campaigns. You could call them the commandments of email marketing, or call them email marketing best practices; they are the things you should strive for. We came up with this list based on our 9 years of using email marketing at VerticalResponse!

Below are 12 ideas to improve your delivery, open, and response rates. Next up I’ll be blogging about 6 things you should avoid in your email marketing!

Things You Should Do

  • Opt-in: Start by being granted permission to email your recipients through an online opt-in process or being provided explicit permission offline. Developing a positive relationship with your recipients is the most important step you can take to help your marketing mailings reach their inboxes, so donʼt jeopardize it – and your companyʼs reputation – with overly aggressive tactics. In addition the more dedication you have to building a quality list the stronger results you will see in the long run.
  • From Label: Ensure the mailing is clearly labeled as coming from the person or company that has a relationship with the recipient. If you use a from label that a recipient doesnʼt recognize, it may prompt them to unsubscribe or worse complain to their ISP about you, even if they are actually interested in your services. Once you decide on a from label donʼt change it for every send, you want to continue to build a relationship with your customer and you canʼt do that if you keep changing their contact.
  • Unsubscribe: Give your email marketing recipients an easy and obvious way to opt-out or unsubscribe from your mailings and remove them quickly from your mailings if they have already done so. Itʼs the law and it reflects favorably upon your company when you act in a responsible manner. You donʼt need the negative publicity that accompanies the “spammer” tag.
  • Subject Line: Make sure your subject line reflects the content of your message. When recipients think theyʼre being tricked into opening the email they often become resentful – and unsubscribe in mass numbers. Donʼt forget subject lines should be 40-50 characters in length with the most important information at the beginning. Anything longer will get cut off by your customers email reader.
  • Your Address: Provide a valid postal address in each email marketing message, as well as an easy way for recipients to contact you or the company responsible for sending your email. Itʼs the law, and it provides another avenue ofcommunication with the customer, which is another opportunity to prove your worth.
  • Content: Only email your recipients content that is relevant to what theyʼve requested. If you start emailing irrelevant offers, theyʼre more likely to unsubscribe. Be creative, this is what keeps your audience coming back for more.
  • Reminders of Sign Up: Remind your recipients where you obtained their contact information and why they are receiving your marketing message. Sometimes people forget that they signed up to receive your email, especially if itʼs been a while since youʼve last communicated. This will help decrease your complaints and increase your reputation as an email sender.
  • Frequency: Create an ongoing relationship with your list members. Building a mutually beneficial email relationship – like all relationships – takes time and care. Mail to your list on a regular basis. Every list works responds differently. Some enjoy daily messages, weekly messages, biweekely or even monthly messages, find out what works for you.
  • Address Books: Ask your recipients to add you to their address books so they recognize your messages when they arrive. In many cases, once youʼre entered in an address book, your images will display properly and your emails will be directed straight to the inbox, not into the bulk folder.
  • Testing: Test, Test, Test: Segment your marketing list, try presenting different offers, using different subject lines, and mailing on different days of the week to determine when you receive the best response.
  • Images: Combine both images and text in your emails. Then, if graphics are stripped from your emails due to the recipientsʼ preferences, at least they are left with text they can read. If you must use an image as the dominant form of communication (we know, some graphic designers wonʼt have it any other way!), then insert a link at the top of the email that lets people read the message without interference. Also provide a link that directs your recipients to a “hosted” version of your email as well. And donʼt forget Alt Text, the text that shows even if the images are turned off. For example if you have an offer in an image like 10% Off, then make sure to included 10% off in the alt text so people can still get that information.
  • Spam Filter: Run your message through a spam filter before you launch your campaign. If words get caught in the filter, replace them with alternatives that will pass the test before proceeding with your mailing. This easy-to-perform trial may dramatically reduce the risk of your email being mislabeled as spam.

Takeaway: Follow these 12 best practices as a guide to keep your campaigns on track and your list growing.

  • Profile:  Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (www.verticalresponse.com), a leading provider of self-service email marketing, online surveys, and direct mail services empowering small businesses to create, manage, and analyze their own direct marketing campaigns. Janine is a columnist for Inc.'s Women in Business blog. In her spare time, Janine is VerticalResponse's Chief Executive Blogger for the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog for Small Businesses. Follow her on Twitter @janinepopick.
  • Website:  http://blog.verticalresponse.com/verticalresponse_blog/
  • Twitter:   http://www.twitter.com/janinepopick
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Your thoughts here
  1. Nice article. Really interesting points you have made.

  2. Another good way to give your response rates a boost is to use personal urls. An example of a Personal URL would be: yoursite.com/Jim.Smith and when \Jim\ visits his personal url, the website will usually be customized to him. It also allows the marketer to track who is responding. Learn more at: http://purlem.com.

  3. Looking good! Keep up the handy posts :). They say that a leading provider of self-service email marketing, online surveys, and direct mail services empowering small businesses to create, manage, and analyze their own direct marketing campaigns. seo nottingham Thanks your post.

  4. Another stellar post Janine!

    Re: point number 5 – I think that one basically says this but, I would add that you should never use a no reply address! One thing I hate is when I get an email that tells me not to reply because no one will get said reply. Email marketing (as you point out) is about relationship building and you can’t have a relationship that is only one way.

    If you want to succeed with email marketing, you need a human behind your mailings who can interact and respond to those you are marketing to.


    Jim Ducharme
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